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Today's Gulf News
Monday, September 13, 2004

September 13, 2004

News | Education

Online learning will soon become education of future

Abu Dhabi

E-learning is the future of education. Soon, students will be able to take their lessons at home, in a coffee shop or at the mall. They can learn anytime and anywhere. All they will need is a computer and an internet connection.

Already, every student at the Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT) and Zayed University (ZU) is carrying a portable computer.

They log on to their computers and read their lessons and do their assignments in the cafeteria or the library.

A large number of people who do not have the time or money to travel are registering for online courses being offered by some of the most prestigious universities and educational institutions in the world.

What is e-learning? Jay Cross, CEO of the Emergent Learning Forum and the man who came up with the term e-learning said: "Now a days, the word e-learning is whatever anybody says it is. At first, it used to be whatever you learn from a computer, but that is not consistent anymore. So, e-learning means many things.

"At first people used to say, it's not the e that's important, it the learning. I don't think that's true. I think it's the doing that's important. It's networking, it's management and it's learning how to deal with computers."

Recently, HCT held its third annual e-learning, e-merging conference under the patronage of Shaikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research and HCT chancellor.

This year's conference was held under the theme "Ensuring quality in e-learning" and focused on quality assurance, design standards and accreditation in online education.

The e-learning guidebook, released during the conference said: "The concept of e-learning is based on the delivery of learning by using technology as the delivery platform. The guiding principle is education anytime and anywhere."

A strong supporter of e-learning, Shaikh Nahyan told Gulf News: "E-learning will shape the future. Technology has become an integral part in utilising education. Many countries around the globe are offering programmes online.

"Through e-learning, you can educate yourself at your own time and your own pace. You don't have to leave your country to pursue your education anymore and it is cheaper for people who can't afford to study abroad."

Dr Curtis J Bonk, professor of educational psychology and instructional systems technology at Indiana University, said: "Our world as we know it, has changed forever. So, we should see what needs to be changed and what needs to stay the same. E-learning is exploding and most universities have incorporated e-learning and others are trying to map every course online."

Bonk said there were a number of misconceptions surrounding e-learning.

"College instructors need to think differently now and not use the same lecturing methods," he said.

Another myth, he said, is that schools and universities cannot afford the technology and that online learning is easy.

"Online learning is much more difficult than traditional learning because students have to be mature, independent learners."

There are also those who are sceptical about e-learning, Najat Rochdi, regional coordinator of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) for the UNDP, said: " I say yes to e-learning and yes to technology, but for what purpose and what kind of society?"

"Technology should complement society, but where does the Arab society stand in all this. The UAE is pioneering in technological advances, but this is not the reality with many other Arab countries. More than 850 million people in developing countries are excluded from a wide range of information and knowledge. The poor in developing countries remain much isolated. We should try to come back to reality."

Hassa Al Gurair, a graduate of ZU's executive master of business administration programme, said: "During our two years of study, we were able to collaborate on projects from different corners of the globe and only met on the days of the presentations. We were thus able to benefit from the expertise and experience of our professors even though they were on another continent."

"Technology should complement society... More than 850 million in developing countries are excluded from a wide range of information and knowledge.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

E-learning can be a wonderful option but don't discount the benefit of going away to college. That way you have your first experience at being on your own but with a safety net. It may be your first or only time mixing with so many people different from yourself. How else do you learn to express yourself and interact directly with others in an atmosphere so rich with learning. I am aware that not everyone has a brick & morter available to them, but I think we need to have that as a foundation.

Lectures are a waste for me. I don't learn much that way, but discussions teach you more than you might realize at the time. Much is learned from body language and voice inflection, also from gauging crowd response. Perhaps President Bush should have spent more of his formative years in discussion groups.

Where is the spell check? Years of online comments at work that relied on leaving out vowels and other abbreviations has lead to a dearth of spelling skills.


4:11 PM  
Blogger jay said...

Ironic, but I'm responding to your comment from Cambridge, Massachusetts, where I'm attending a reunion. Were it not for a couple of wonderful universities I was privileged to attend, my life would be tedious and dull. College is a delightful way to become socialized. I deal mainly with corporate culture.

10:13 PM  

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